Even if you're not a total foodie, you absolutely MUST go on a food tour in Reykjavik if you travel to Iceland. It's far more than experiencing delicious Icelandic food and drinks. You get to explore the city, experience the culture, meet new friends, and get the inside scoop about Iceland's best kept secrets. You truly get a taste for the Icelandic culture (pun intended) and you hit all the very best spots in town, even though some of them may not be the most popular. That's the beauty of having a local tour guide. My travel pals and I (@luke_jclark , @keenanlam , @samnewtonmedia ) took the tour through Wake Up Reykjavik, where we had the best mate, Egill, as our tour guide. I've never had such a positive experience with a tour company, I highly recommend booking with Wake Up Reykjavik. I could go on and on about how great the experience was, but I'll let the video and photos speak for themselves below.
Video by the talented @keenanlam and photos taken by the wonderful @luke_jclark .
STOP 1: Íslenski Barinn
Lamb Soup, Mushroom Soup, Beer Sampler
This homey hole-in-the-wall is a family owned and operated restaurant, serving family recipes daily, specializing in their lamb soup, a classic Icelandic comfort food dish. As a vegetarian, I opted for their popular veggie alternative, homemade mushroom soup, as the guys chose the classic option. WOW. This was by far the most delicious vegetable soup I have ever tasted. It was light, full of flavor, and went down incredibly smooth. Even though I scarfed it down quite quickly, it was very satisfying (I ate it so fast I forgot to take a picture, so instead here's a photo of a tasty beer sampler we sipped on). Also, don't forget to munch on their delicious home made bread.
STOP 2: Ostabúðin
Cheese and meats spread, dessert
Next on our tour, was an Icelandic cheese shop for a local & seasoned We tasted the Svartur Goudi, Gullostur (brie), and Þorri (blue). The entire selection was delicious, however the Þorri was my favorite. The extra bit of salt in that particular cheese really enhanced the richness of the flavor. For the meat eating members of the group, they also tasted horse fillet with rosemary and arctic thyme, sheep fillet with rosemary, thyme and fennel, and finally hot smoked arctic goose breast with homemade raspberry & champagne vinegar. But wait! There's more... The best part about this place was their incredible fudge cake. I would have never known to try this on my own, as the cake is sold in a quite unpleasant looking packaging, but fear not. It is SO delicious.
STOP 3: Cafe Loki
Rye Bread Icecream, Smoked Arctic Trout, Plokkfiskr, Homemade Rye Bread
Next stop, was another family owned and operated restaurant, with a very chic, modern vibe. It's right next door to the tallest building in Iceland, the infamous Hallgrímskirkja church. The homemade Rye bread ice cream is an absolute treat. We also tasted rye break with smoked arctic trout and plokkfiskur (mashed fish, potatoes, onions etc.). Each of these was a fantastic dive into the Icelandic culture, and the presentation was exceptional. I mean, look at it. Is your mouth watering yet?
STOP 4: Bæjarins beztu pylsur
Iconic Hot dog
The "most important" spot on this tour, the place that has a special place in Iceland's heart, the Bæjarins beztu pylsur, aka the oldest fast food restaurant in Iceland, a hot dog stand. It sits just around the corner from the heart of Reykjavik, and fair warning, the line is usually a 15-20 minute wait. But the wait is worth it. The proper way to order it is with everything on it. It has everything from creamy mustard to fried onions. If you don't have one of these hot dogs, did you even go to Iceland? Locals will tell you no. (PS, Luke and I completely forgot to take a picture of the dogs, as we were too busy enjoying the moment. So let your imagination run wild picturing the most delicious hot dog you've seen).
STOP 5: Kopar
Next we walked towards the pier where we stopped at Kopar, an elegant, upscale seafood restaurant with a rustic atmosphere directly next to the harbor. Here we tasted rock crab soup with fresh shrimps, bean sprouts and spinach. I have never tasted anything like this before. So much culture in one dish. You must trt a traditional seafood soup if you have the chance. What I also loved about this spot was the ability to experience this side of town. It was full of street art and the smell of the sea. What a neat spot.
STOP 6: Apotek
Last, but DEFINITELY not least, we stopped at Apotek for dessert. These desserts are more like pieces of art rather than pastries. I chose their beautifully crafted chocolate mousse rose. It was light, airy and melted in my mouth. When I got closer to the center I was delightfully surprised to taste a homemade raspberry filling. It completely satisfied my sweet tooth craving. I'll be dreaming of this later, I'm sure. Side note, my guide Egill told me they have some of the best cocktails in town. Order one of those if you go.
Tune in later this week to hear more about my Icelandic adventures! The team and I have been here for only 5 days, and I already have the most wild stories to tell. They may or may not include dangerous river crossings, volcano huts, and the northern lights. (Is this real life?)